Saturday, February 12, 2005
This will probably be my last posting from Paris this year. Next Friday I will travel by train to my parents in Holland, and two days later I will fly back home, where during the last seven weeks the weather has been much worse than here in Europe, and where the extreme and not necessarily so extreme right is becoming more and more desperate and violent. Even former pillars of rightwing opposition within the Likud, like Nethanyahu and Livnat, are being threatened and attacked, and some of their colleagues are afraid to speak out openly against it, fearing to lose their own support among the opponents of an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and from other parts of the occupied territories.
Yesterday I attended a very interesting seminar on the history and historiography of Nazism. This month's lecture was on guilt and responsability in the case of Hans Frank, Traudl Junge and Carl Jaspers. This week I also had some very fruitful sessions, one at the AIU, and several at the CDJC, where I will be working tomorrow and Monday as well. Tuesday and Wednesday I will be at the Documentation Francaise, collecting material from official French periodicals from the period that I am researching. Thursday will be spent finishing some official things, visiting the Fonds pour la Memoire de la Shoah ( which funded almost all of my expenses for this sejour de recherche ), and packing my bag for the next day. Friday, at the Gare du Nord where my train for Rotterdam will be leaving, I will meet someone whom I got into contact with through my weblog.
I sent a suggestion for an article on the newly opened CDJC to two Dutch newspapers. The documentation center and archives are now in a beautifully renovated building, together with the museum of the Shoah ( in France ). Since its highly publicized opening, on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz two weeks ago, large crowds have been visiting both the museum and the documentation center. While working in the center/library, I heard many moving and extremely interesting stories of people who had or were looking for information about relatives or friends who had been deported from France and did not return. I also found details about the transport which took the father of my monther-in-law ( the grandfather of my wife and great-grandfather of our children ) to Maidanek on March 6th 1943. I already had found the dates of that transport ( nr. 51 ) in the records of the Red Cross/Arolsen at Yad Vashem, but now I had the whole list of the 1000 or so men, women and children who were deported on that day, and I read in one of the wonderful books of Serge Klarsfeld ( whose work on the Shoah in France cannot be praised enough ) that this was one of two transports who were sent as a 'represaille' for the killing, by members of the French Resistance, of - I am not sure, I wrote it down somewhere and do not have the note with me right now - one or two German officers. A friend of mine who works in the archive promised me to send me - if they can be found - the Gestapo records of my wife's grandfather's arrival in Drancy. He was murdered in Poland, less than forty years old, and left a pregnant wife and a three-year old daughter ( my mother-in-law ) somewhere in Southern France. They managed to survive the war, my mother-in-law was sent to Israel on a ship with other children, and her mother gave birth to a boy, Moshe, met another survivor, remarried and came to Israel a few years later. Moshe died very young, killed in a traffic accident in Israel, and my mother-in-law's mother - who died about one year before I met my wife - and her new husband had two more children, the uncle and aunt of my wife.
Anyway, the suggested article would deal with the museum and the CDJC ( which has a very interesting history, as it was founded in still-occupied France in 1943 by Jews who wanted to collect material in order not to forget and to be able to prosecute German and French perpetrators of the crimes committed against the Jews ) and contain one or more of the fascinating stories that I hear daily in the documentation center. My wife's family's history I just mentioned here as an example of how, even 60 years after 'the' war, the Holocaust is still very much a 'living part' of the personal history of many Jews, in Israel and abroad, and will probably remain so for at least one or two generations. I would of course ask permission of the persons involved. As I expected - considering the way in which the paper works and is managed - the only Jewish weekly in Holland was not interested ("we already had many stories on the Holocaust in the last few weeks" ), but I am still waiting for the answer of another newspaper, with which I have been working often. They are on holiday this week, so I will probably receive a response early next week, just in time for me to be able to write an article before I leave Paris, that is if they are interested of course.
Wow, this posting has become much longer than expected or intended. Have a nice weekend, and a good week, all of you.
Posted by Bert at 1:26 PM